Book and a Movie-The Testaments

You could believe in Gilead or you could believe in God, but not both.

It’s been a long wait, but with The Testaments master of suspense Margaret Atwood finally lays to rest the FAQ’s raised by her 1985 phenomenon The Handmaid’s Tale about the shocking dystopian patriarchy of Gilead. The character of Offred (breeding-slave to clergy elite) is now a mere footnote, yet her silent battle continues across generations and international boundaries with the implication that you can’t keep a good woman down without repercussions. That woman is Aunt Lydia, a former judge at the top of the power pyramid allotted the powerless sex, as she draws three teens into her protective orbit: two reluctant brides whose charming innocence filters the prevailing evil, and a covert-convert from the free zone of Canada.

The Testaments elaborates on the futuristic, ultra-conservative America that Atwood painted a generation ago—with its many strictures on clothing, comportment, work, and travel—to reveal the full history and structure of a society where women are chattel and pubescent girls are schooled in needlepoint rather than literacy, where they are forced into arranged marriages, where connubial success is measured in Marthas (maids), and where men commit pedophilia and uxoricide with relative immunity—save for the unlucky few who are sentenced to particicution, the blood-sport of the downtrodden.

At first chilling and too-far-fetched, the plot taps so deeply and deftly into human frailties that by the end, it seems almost possible, especially as the geographic boundaries of this authoritarian world are realized. For those who think it can’t happen here, watch this brief CBS interview with Canada’s best-selling author as she explains the story’s inception and how she employed only known atrocities throughout history in order to retain plausibility.